Monday, January 4, 2016

What Do Those Do-Hickey's Do? Tools I Love That Save My Life

One thing I know about myself for sure is that work is a big part of who I am.
To keep all the plates spinning as a working mom employing technology is a must. On top of the typical demands of work my profession requires responsiveness 7 days a week and unplugging is only an option if there is coverage while unplugged. The flip side of that is that I do have some flexibility in my schedule, which fits my lifestyle.

Technology is helpful when it solves a problem or makes tasks more efficient.
More efficiency in your work life theoretically leaves more time for play.

Technology is not so helpful when it creates problems (too much time online mindlessly, not enough time working) or texting while driving.
Finding balance in online pursuits is key and considering how to strike that balance is proving helpful to me as I look toward the New Year.

Here's my list of my 5 favorite tools that contribute to my efficiency which as it happens helps with balance,
4 out of 5 of the tools are apps.
1 out of 5 is on good old paper.

Note that this list is in no particular order.

Evernote - This app is for just what the title states - taking notes so you have them whenever and wherever. Evernote is on my laptop, smartphone and tablet. I just referred to a note yesterday from February 2013. The info needed from that note (about clean eating) would not have been available to me had I not used Evernote when taking it all that time ago. Believe me when I say a post it note would not have lasted all this time. Some people can be very organized with planner books and notebooks but I am not one of those people.

Waze - Waze is a social GPS. The great thing about it is that the info is in real time as reported by other 'Wazers' who are on the road. Plug in a location and the app will guide you on the fastest route and will alert you to pot holes (hugely helpful in my area) and other hazards along the way. I have just started using Waze and I'm sure I have not utilized all of the tools that come along with it but have already seen the benefits. When leaving a big sporting event on New Years Eve Waze guided me out of traffic and home far more quickly than I would have been able to get home if left to my own devices or google maps. The area is one I am familiar with but I never would have thought to go the way Waze sent me. Whoever created this app is a genius.

Headspace - Want to try meditating for more balance and just to feel good? Time can be a major hinderance to fitting in all the things you'd like to fit in to your day. That overwhelmed feeling can actually paralize me sometimes. Headspace is a great way to clear your head and get the day started and fitting in 10 minutes is do-able. You will love Andy, the kind Monk, who leads you through 10 10 minute meditations. If you like it there are more paid meditation tracks that you can purchase but that first 10 are free.

Passion Planner - A colleague introduced me to Passion Planner last summer and I must admit I have not purchased one. (imagine a souped up Daytimer/Journal and that's Passion Planner)
The website has free downloads that I love for weekly planning. I tried Google Calendar as a way to keep a family calendar and it just did not work. This was not in any way Google Calendars fault, in fact, I love it for my own calendar. It just did not work as a family planner.
In a perfect world on Sunday nights for the last 6-7 months my husband and I sit down together and map out the week. Because it has proved to be so helpful we are pretty faithful about it. Sometimes it happens on Monday or even later in the week but I'd have to say that except for a week here or there we have made this happen regularly.  On the weekly calendar there is also space to talk about what went well in the prior week and what the focus will be for the week to come. Sometimes we add meal plans to the calendar. Yesterday I even got fancy and used a different color for each childs schedule for this coming week. That won't last long ... who knows where the colored pencils will be when I go looking for them next week.

Google Calendar - I love Google calendar for the same reason I love Evernote. Enter something in on one device and it can be found on all of your devices. One of my goals for 2015 was to be on time as often as possible, especially for work meetings. Setting alarms and notifications with Google calendar helped me improve with that dramatically. If better time management is one of your aspirations in 2016 give google calendar a try.

What are your favorite tools for creating work/life balance or just for creating more available time for fun? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

My best, Wendy


  1. I love buffer to help me schedule my social media posts over time. Also- not work related I adore It is free for any use high res photos that are gorgeous. I use them for inspiration all the time.

    1. Thanks Anna I will check both of those out. Can you tell I need photo help? Lol.

    2. LOVE Anna. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions - some are new and I can't wait to try them out! Evernote is a must and I just found Wunderlist - great for list making and then tapping to check items off your list from your phone while out and about. I also really like Trello for a planning tool.

  3. Thanks for the reminder about Trello! I have used it in the past and did really like it. Thanks for reading and commenting too :)